Software/AskSam Systems, go
to the web site
Windows 95 or later
US$149.95 (Standard); $395 (Professional)
talk too much. I write too much. I'm a news and information
junkie. I'm in the investigative research and development
business. I manage software development. Like a lot of people
I work with, I'm busy. I generate a lot of documents. I do
a lot of Web searches. I do a lot of database searches. The
problem is that when you've got access to so much data, finding
what you need is a big chore. As a matter of fact, it's a
big fat chore even if you've only got to slog through 5% of
what I've got. askSam 5 is the tool of choice for a lot of
people like me who need a fast way to find what they need
without also having to be a database genius.
does anybody remember the first version of Enfish Tracker
Pro? It was (mostly) a powerful search tool which could be
used to search massive Outlook PST files - even files hundreds
of megabytes in size. No Internet. No Web. Some HTML as long
as it wasn't too complex. That was 1997. Five years later
and the online world has changed - search software along with
it. In fact, since 1985 there has been a growing need for
effective and comprehensive search software. Google's success
is not a fluke and neither is the success of forensic search
tools such as TextSearch Plus. But as the rest of us slog
through endless pages of search results, saving the pages
we need (Excel spreadsheets, Word and WordPerfect documents,
Outlook and Eudora e-mail, databases, text, RTF, news, buying
information, vacation and travel information, ad infinitum),
more and more software developers have responded with increasingly
comprehensive tools. The corporate database business is worth
a trillion dollars worldwide. That's a lot of money.
is a program for organizing most of the information which
flows through your office or across you desk. Type, scan,
or import post-its, phone messages, memos, faxes, resumes,
depositions, newspaper articles, or e-mail into askSam, then
search for words or phrases. The software provides a range
of searches typically found in database programs, including
full text, fuzzy, wildcard, Boolean, proximity, date and numeric.
If the information is structured (e.g.: names and addresses),
you can take advantage of askSam's freeform database capabilities
by creating custom data entry forms. As you add documents,
call up the entry form and fill in the fields. askSam does
not appear to require pre-defined field lengths or field types
- fields expand as you enter information and can be edited
or altered at any time in a process that doesn't muck up your
data. Basically, you can find any piece of text inside any
document - ideal for legal, medical or research knowledge
found that using askSam is a bit like using a word processor.
Typical database management chores such as those associated
with Microsoft Access, FileMaker Pro and Oracle simply don't
exist with askSam. It's a reasonably powerful freeform database
which provides flexibility by letting you import a large range
of file formats including PDF files, e-mail (from Eudora,
Netscape Mail, Outlook, Outlook Express and PocoMail). There's
no support at this time for Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Notes.
You can also enter data manually. As an information organizer,
askSam excels at keeping track of e-mail messages, word processing
documents, spreadsheets, addresses and HTML files.
askSam was quite straighforward. In the CompuNotes tradition
of reviews by real users, I threw askSam at a new employee
of ours who had the task of sorting through archives of about
3,000 text documents related to Eastern European politics.
Everything had to be fully searchable by date, document size,
subject, title and so on. Setting up a database template was
a breeze. askSam imported everything cleanly with the exception
of a handful of corrupt files, and all of the searches requested
of our staffer produced clear and legible reporting output
from askSam. The only letdown was the absence of any charting
or graphing functions in reports. We did not try the askSam
Electronic Publisher (for creating CDs) or the Web Publisher
(for creating online reports) - both items are add-ons.
Although it's not our primary database, we've been using askSam
in our research offices for several years in conjunction with
SurfSaver (and more recently) BullsEye, so we're a bit disappointed
that the askSam 5 format has not yet been released inside
SurfSaver (which is still based on the askSam 4 engine). We're
hoping the next release of SurfSaver will include askSam 5
compatibility. Ditto for BullsEye. Unlike FileMaker Pro and
Microsoft Access askSam has no data type, range or foreign
key constraints, all of which are crucial for complex searches
and foreign language searches. askSam database was not accessible
using our existing data reporting software. No data validation
utility which means that it's harder to catch data entry errors.
No graphing in its reports.
No data management of any kind in place? askSam is a decent
choice and a heckuva lot cheaper than much of the competition.
The Insert Entry Form lets you add a field to all existing
documents - very cool and useful new feature. Original documents
can be linked (via Hypertext) or embedded in the askSam database
- a bigtime feature. An ActiveX control is included for programmers
interested in providing access to askSam databases from ASP-based
Web applications. Recommended for small businesses, individuals
to the Editor are welcome and occasionally abused in public.
Send e-mail to: email@example.com